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Summaries of answers to Assignment #15
(Huda, Sarah and Scott)

(assigned to: scott)

1. what did you find

1.1. interesting about the article?

A number of students mentioned finding the idea of the "hot office" (or "hot desking") intersting. I agree that it is a promising idea for the future, considering that right now we are already connected by countless digital means. Our meaningful behavior is simply supplemented by interaction with other persons for social reasons. One student mentioned that he now has a different view of working from home based on the virtual office setup by Chiat/Day, and now he might consider pursuing the opportunity. One student made the following statement, "While technology is making people more connected, technology is also making people more isolated at the same time" (Jun). To me this says that even though we have all of this wonderful technology, its not a panacea, it certainly cannot cure all of our worldy problems.

One particular student talked about how this article could be written about him because he is a real life "telecommuter." He has been granted a 1-year pass from his company in Colorado Springs so he can telecommute from Bouder and finish up his Ph.D work. He says, "95% of my job is tied to the internet. If my cable modem goes down or I have problems with my equipment, I am crippled." Technology can fail you in a real office, but it isn't as noticeable because there is a significant amount of human interaction to keep you busy.

1.2. not interesting about the article?

Most people claimed to have found nothing uninteresting about the article, although I find that hard to believe because there is always something. However, those who felt like being honest mentioned how they would have liked to see more examples like the Chiat/Day scenario.

2. what do you consider the main message of the article?

The main message of this article that was that digital media and computers will allow employees in the future to work at home more than in the office. And it also mentions that this isn't always the best course of action for success. We cannot expect that technology will transform our home office into a regular working environment. Having all the facilities to work from home does not necessarily mean that we should abandon cooperative office tasks and collaboration with co-workers. Working environments provide many benfits that are not accounted for; for example, people acting as resources for others, people sharing ideas, and learning problem solving techniques.

A few of the students mentioned that just because technology evolves at a feverish pace, that does not mean that we should constantly be playing catch-up. Instead we should learn to better design and build our technologies so that they can evolve with us, at an even pace.

(assigned to: huda)

3. what does the following quote mean to you: "design needs to attend not simply to the frailty of technological systems and the robustness of social systems, but to ways in which social systems often play a key part in making even frail technology robust"

3.1. why are social systems robust?

Many responses noted that the diversity of knowledge, expertise areas, skills, personalities, all lead to a greater pool of resources available to social systems. Knowledge is distributed among members of the system, and collectively, the group's knowledge covers a much greater area than any one individual, leading to better solutions. Members in a group work together and help each other learn.

One response noted that because human societies and systems have been around for a very long time, social systems have basically developed efficient methods and understanding of how to work in groups. As individuals, we start dealing with the issues of how to work in groups as children functioning in families. Two responses mentioned the adaptability of social systems: how social systems can deal with the unexpected or previously unknown situations and come up with quick resolutions.

3.2. why are technological system frail?

Many responders discussed how technological systems are very complex and their limitations are not fully understood either by users.

From the point of view of the users, technological systems are designed for a specific purpose and do not prove useful in situations where users might want those systems to be useful. Users are not sure of all the functionality or limitations.

Also, technological systems take a lot of time to set up and may crash even in situations where they are meant to function properly. The complexity of the systems means no one really has all the knowledge regarding the system.

Additionally, as systems get redesigned and newer systems emerge, users are left even more confused regarding the functionalities and limitations of the technology.

From the point of view of the designers, the problem domain is too complex to be fully understood by the designers, and so even the designers cannot anticipate all the situations that may be faced by the system. "There is no perfect technological system". Technological systems, unlike social systems, can thus not deal with the unexpected or unknown situations.

3.3. or do you disagree with the authors about his?

Everyone but one person who answered this question agreed with the author. The remaining individual noted that they could not completely agree or disagree with the author since technological systems were tools and could not be considered useful in situations for which they were not built. Hence, these systems are frail for situations they are not meant for but will work for relevant situations. Still, certain systems are not robust even for situations that are relevai be considered frail.

(assigned to: sarah)

4. think of a couple of persons (maybe family members or friends) who are in a position to use computer by being "home alone"! Characterize the major problems that these persons have!

  • accessing info that is not in digital lib
  • laboratories
  • specialized computer sys (i.e.> super computer)
  • heavy-duty machinery
  • Dr. who needs to diagnose patients
  • had a problem with the Chinese word processor systems (political problem than technical)
  • new problems
  • hard to learn new functions and tasks by oneself

5. Describe briefly some new innovative technologies that you can think of which would address these problems!

  • blue technology/netmeeting/communication tools/virtual community
  • better error reporting/instructions/troubleshhoting
  • not sure

6. in case of problems with computer systems ? how often to you look for help/advice

6.1. from humans?

>> p1 : 40%

>> p2 : 60%

>> p3 : only if others seem to have enough knowledge

>> p4 : not often (only if self can't solve problem)

>> p5 : pretty much always

6.2. from written documentation?

>> p1 : 10%

>> p2 : 30%

>> p3 : only if written doc is relatively standard (i.e.> Prog. info)

>> P4 : quite often

>> p5 : not really at all

6.3. from online resources?

>> p1 : 50%

>> p2 : 10%

>> p3 : often (i.e.> usenets)

>> p4 : first place to look

>> p5 : sometimes

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